A dog tick is a parasite that can carry diseases that have the potential to harm your pet. Being able to identify ticks can help you spot them on your dog and remove them quickly before they become a threat.
Ticks love to hide in warm, dark spots on your dog’s body. So start by checking the areas around your dog’s head, ears and paws.
The body of a dog tick consists of chelicerae, which puncture and insert into the host’s skin. They secrete a cement-like substance, which forms a cone on the surface of epidermis and extends to the stratum corneum.
During attachment, capillary and small blood vessels are lacerated and haemorrhage occurs. This allows the tick to suck blood and other fluids from the host’s skin, or telmophagy.
Once attached, a brown dog tick will continue to move around its host’s body searching for the best location to bite and blood feed. This movement can cause the skin around the tick to become red, inflamed and swollen.
The life cycle of a brown dog tick can take up to two months, depending on the climatic and environmental conditions. It begins with an egg (called a hard tick) that hatches in the ground. The larva then molts into a nymph that feeds on its host, then molts again to develop into a mature adult.
The head of a dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus) is the most prominent part of the parasite's body. The head consists of two palps and a hypostome, or mouthparts that attach to the host's skin. The mouthparts also have chelicerae, which cut through the skin and help to hold the tick's hypostome in place while it feeds on the host.
The chelicerae are lined with rows of backward pointing barbs, which help to lock the tick's hypostome in the host's skin. Once the tick has finished feeding, it will fall off and crawl into a hiding spot to lay eggs.
After the pupal stage, a dog tick's life cycle involves molting into a nymph and then an adult. During this time, the tick may feed on the host and transmit disease.
A tick has a hard, oval body and eight legs. The head, or hypostome (high-post-ohm), functions as a barbed needle to pierce the skin.
There are many different types of ticks that can infect dogs and humans with a range of diseases. They are intracellular parasites that eat blood and transmit disease-causing bacteria to the host.
Several species of ticks are common in the United States. These include American dog ticks, Rocky Mountain wood ticks and Pacific coast ticks.
These ticks are found in homes, kennels, groomers and other places where people live and interact with their pets. They are also found in grasslands where deer, wild animals and other small mammals live.
Adults and nymphs feed on dogs, laying eggs as they go. After feeding, they mate and become engorged. They then drop off and die. Thousands of eggs are laid per female.
A dog tick feeds by piercing the skin with its mouthparts (chelicerae and hypostome), then inserting itself into a host. The chelicerae cuts through the skin and the hypostome functions like a barbed needle.
Hard ticks have a tough shield just behind their mouthparts, while soft ticks do not have this protective shell. Both types can be removed using tweezers or a specially-designed tick removal tool.
Once a tick is removed, clean the bite site and your hands to prevent infection. If possible, use rubbing alcohol to kill the tick.
Ticks are everywhere, so it’s essential to know what they look like on your pet and how to spot them. A good tick prevention plan combined with daily skin checks is the best way to protect your pet.